A transgender teenager has sued a Wisconsin school after being prohibited from using the boys’ bathroom, among other alleged indignities, Fox News is reporting.
Ashton “Ash” Whitaker, 16, was born biologically female but has identified as male since junior high school. He’s been butting heads with Tremper High School and the Kenosha Unified School District ever since.
Transgender student accuses school of ‘stigmatizing’ treatment: Ashton “Ash” Whitaker, a Wisconsin transgender… https://t.co/wC7lqZj3aU
— Shirley Homan (@ShirleyHoman481) July 21, 2016
In a lawsuit filed this week in Milwaukee, Ashton and his parents claim that not only has he been denied access to the boys’ restroom, but he and other transgender students have also been made to wear green wristbands so staff will be aware that they are transgender and, according to WDJT (Milwaukee), monitor their bathroom use.
As a response to the scrutiny over his bathroom use and from being denied access to the bathroom he feels most comfortable with, Ash says he limited his liquid intake, which aggravates an existing medical condition that causes stress migraines and fainting spells.
Further, Ash says that he was made to share a room with girls on a school trip to Europe and that he was forbidden from running for prom king, a decision that was reversed after other students rallied to his cause.
Tremper High School
Kenosha, WI pic.twitter.com/37RprRhJq7
— StudentSectionGoals (@Section_Goals_) December 24, 2015
Ash’s attorney, Rock Pledl, calls his client’s treatment nothing short of harassment.
“The degree to which the administration has just continued to harass him over and over and raising the stakes when you’d think it’d be the opposite. You’d think they’d be looking for a way to make his life at that high school more pleasant.”
Ashton’s suit alleges that the school district violates Title IX of the Civil Rights Act, which prohibits discrimination based on sex.
On Wednesday afternoon, the school district’s chief communications officer, Tanya Ruder, released a statement in response to the transgender teen’s lawsuit.
“Even a cursory review of the complaint shows that some of the factual allegations are patently false. The District does not have a practice or policy requiring any student to wear a wristband for monitoring any purpose or for any reason whatsoever. The District has worked diligently with [transgender] students and their families to address their unique needs and accommodations, including the family named in the suit.”
Across the country, schools are wrestling with how to accommodate the needs of transgender kids on their campuses, with approaches ranging from acceptance to outright hostility and everything in between.
In the suburban Chicago community of Palatine, Illinois, for example, Township High School District 211 tried to accommodate a transgender female, according to the Chicago Tribune. When she was given access to the girls’ locker room, other female students complained and filed a lawsuit. As of this writing, that lawsuit has not yet been tried in a federal court.
In Colorado, on the other hand, a first-grade transgender girl in Colorado won the right to use the girls’ bathroom in her school after her parents sued, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
In May 2016, the Obama administration issued guidelines that recommended transgender students in all public schools across the country be given access to the bathroom that corresponds to their gender identity, according to CNN.
Attorney General Loretta Lynch explained why she believed the guidelines are necessary.
“This guidance gives administrators, teachers and parents the tools they need to protect transgender students from peer harassment and to identify and address unjust school policies.”
Those guidelines, however, have not yet proved to be the final word on the subject, and lawsuits over the matter of transgender teens and children having access to the bathrooms they’re most comfortable with are working their ways through courts across the country.
[Image via Freer/Shutterstock]